Botswana’s President Masisi’s first year in office marred by executions

President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s first year in office has been characterized by a steep rise in executions, with four people put to death since his inauguration, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

“The alarming rise in executions under President Mokgweetsi Masisi has cast a chilling shadow over his presidency. Since President Masisi was sworn into office a year ago, four people have been hanged, taking away their right to life,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

“By continuing to sign execution warrants, President Masisi is showing a disregard for the right to life and bucking the regional and global trend against the ultimate cruel and inhumane punishment.”

Botswana recorded its first execution under President Mokgweetsi Masisi in December 2019, barely a month after he came to office, with the hanging of Mooketsi Kgosibodiba, who had been on death row since 2017. In February 2020, Mmika Michael Mpe was hanged, and Moabi Seabelo Mabiletsa and Matshidiso Tshid Boikanyo were hanged in March.

“President Masisi has missed an opportunity to break the cycle of executions in Botswana and demonstrate that justice can be delivered without using the death penalty. There is no evidence that the death penalty is an effective deterrent to crime,” said Deprose Muchena.

“Justice is not served by executing people, and the world is moving away from this abhorrent and degrading form of punishment.”

Amnesty International calls on Botswana to, pending the abolition of the death penalty for all crimes, immediately establish and official moratorium on executions.

The death penalty is still applied for murder in Botswana, and Botswana is the only country in southern Africa that continues to carry out executions.

The country has been urged to abandon the use of the death penalty by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, which reiterated  that: “it [the death penalty] constitutes a violation of Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter), which specifically prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of the right to life”

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.

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